On Tuesday, the City Council’s Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation held a a virtual hearing to discuss the numerous office-to-lab conversions popping up in the neighborhoods! According to Colliers lab report, nearly 3 million square feet of offices are being converted to lab use – which would increase the life science inventory by 50%.
Tom Ready, a Fort Point Neighborhood Association board member, spoke up during the hearing to state, “There is more public engagement when an applicant wants to get a liquor license than there is to open a lab in the city of Boston.”
According to Biznow.com, City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty explained that conversions are happening due to the fact there is a demand for life science companies, in addition to office tenants renewing leases have gone down thanks to hybrid work. Life sciences also requires more in-person work than remote office environments, which helps retail, hospitality and retail communities.
Complaints and concerns from neighborhood residents ranged from noisy rooftop mechanicals, blocking sightline and pollution.
Safety levels of the labs in Boston was also discussed. According to Biznow.com, Boston includes seven BSL-3 labs across area universities and medical facilities. Microbes in a BSL-3 lab can cause serious or even lethal disease through respiratory contamination – like bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Boston only has one BSL-4 facility and it’s the Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories where research includes Covid, Ebola, HIV/AIDs and Zika virus.
There are currently no BSL-3 or BSL-4 labs in the pipeline for developments coming soon to the neighborhood.
Bottomline of meeting is that city councilors and the Boston Planning and Development Agency will work to keep the residents informed and educated to exactly what type of lab or life science buildings will be developed in the neighborhood!